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Topic: V2G

[Episode #178] – How the Transition Will Unfold

The energy transition is an extremely complex undertaking, with every country, company, and individual taking action in various, largely uncoordinated ways, and often in pursuit of different targets. This has led some observers to warn that the transition will be messy, and its outcome uncertain. But is that really a problem, or just another challenge to be met and overcome?

In this episode, we speak with a researcher who has studied the history of technological innovations with a focus on the evolution of solar power. Dr. Gregory Nemet is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin where he teaches energy systems analysis, policy analysis, and international environmental policy. His research focuses on understanding the process of technological change and the ways in which public policy can affect it, and he offers some helpful insights on how the transition will unfold.

He suggests that we needn’t just plunge blindly into the uncertain future and hope everything works out, nor should we hesitate to proceed until we are confident that we have a workable plan. Rather, he believes we can have quite a lot of confidence about how to proceed, without knowing exactly what all the steps are, and without knowing exactly where we’ll end up. In any case, simply staying along our current course is not an option. We discuss the general discourse about the energy transition, where it is confused about the fundamental nature of this transition, and how it will unfold. Whether you’re a full-throated transitionista or a skeptic, this episode is guaranteed to be thought-provoking.

Geek rating: 3

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[Episode #174] – Decarbonizing Britain’s Grid

As the energy transition proceeds and variable renewable power from wind and solar displaces conventional generators, strict operational limits for the grid's voltage, frequency, and inertia must be maintained. To do this, grid operators are increasingly procuring so-called “stability services” and making other enhancements to the grid that ensure stability.

In this episode, we take a close look at how Great Britain is undertaking this stability challenge by interviewing Julian Leslie, Head of Networks and Chief Engineer at National Grid ESO, which runs the transmission grid for the country. Not only does National Grid ESO operate the fastest-decarbonizing electricity network in the world, it has also recently achieved several important technical accomplishments for the first time in the world, including implementing cutting edge tools that allow accurate measurements of inertia across its system; using grid-forming inverters to provide synthetic inertia; and using synchronous condensers without an associated prime mover. And in another world-first achievement, the company has actually written the specification for using grid-forming inverters into its grid code.

Julian explains all of these technical concepts in today’s conversation and lays out the deliberate strategy that the company is taking to ensure that it can deliver on Great Britain’s decarbonization objectives while maintaining system stability and saving British consumers a great deal of money.

This is a highly technical episode with a Geek Rating of 9, so if you want to brush up on grid power engineering concepts first before listening to this one, you could start with our Energy Basics miniseries—in particular, Episode #126 about how power generators and the grid works—then move on to Episode #55 on voltage stability, and then Episode #153 on grid-forming inverters. Then return to this one.

Geek rating: 9

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